Monday, November 26, 2012

Pearls Before the Double Bounce

Much as I enjoy reading the daily comics, I seldom laugh out loud when I do. I did today when I read Pearls Before Swine. Here's the strip in question. I'll explain why afterwards. (click on image to enlarge)

I often engage in wordplay, so I usually see pun-based punchlines coming long before the setup's done. Not so this time, which is why I laughed. A key component to humor is the element of surprise, which is what Stephen Pastis so masterfully achieved.

Neighbor Bob is a recurring character in Pearls, so I didn't realize that his name would be an important part of the pun. I was anticipating the punchline to be "No sari" (No, sorry). So when it turned out to be a play on the expression "No siree, Bob," I was taken by surprise. And I laughed.

But the real treat was the last panel where Pastis makes another pun on the word "Sari" -- the one I had expected, but didn't get, and therefore no longer expected. Two punchlines, or as I like to think of it, a double bounce.

Masterful. And funny.

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